In a conversation at The City Winery in New York City on September 23rd 2022, Robert Fripp & David Singleton answer some “burning questions” from the audience.
Thank you so much for all that you do for us, for making the music, and for influencing our lives. My question is about your expertise as a musician. You demonstrate a lot of technical and marvelous work but when, as you said before, you “plug in, strap on and just rock out,” do you go with the flow of your music? Do you follow it? And where do you go?
Okay, now, there is the practicalities of working in bands. How many people here work in bands?
All right. Now, if we are looking for a situation where the impossible is possible, the prime requirement is that everyone in the band shares the same aim within King Crimson. This is the first principle; music comes first. Is this reasonable? Good. The second principle is that within the band, for all the members of the band, the interests of the band come first ahead of their own personal interest. This, in terms of King Crimson, is rare. So, for those of you who are members of bands, what do you do when you are in a band with four members and one of them believes it is all about them and another member thinks that they are more important than everyone else? We are now talking about at least four decades of my professional life in King Crimson. Now, there is lots of online witterings about who is and who is not in the band. A very simple guide is this; do we agree that the first principle among us is that the music comes first? No. All right. Do we agree among us that within the band, the band is more important than each of us? No. So what does Robert do? What would you do? And if you examine the tangled history of King Crimson, these are a few clues.
Now, have I been in situations of flow? This is the word which Dr. Bill Bruford uses in his thesis from an Unpronounceable Philosopher. Flow. What is it like working with Brian Eno? Fun, laughter, play it's going that way. Stunning. What's it like working with Brian Eno and David Bowie and Tony Visconti? Fun. Play. Flow. Laughter. What's it like working with Jamie Muir, a master of improvisation. Jeremy Stacy, the middle drummer, is a stunning improviser. There are several people in the house that I recognize as being improvisational players. Have you read Professor Gary Hagberg on the ethics of improvisation?
No, I have not.
I recommend that you search for him in the academic world, breathtaking. He is himself a jazz player and teaches jazz in addition to being a philosopher. He is one of the rare characters who can articulate my own experience over decades and takes it further. Professor Alfonso Montuori is another one I recommend. Professor Daniel Fischlin is another. Academics are beginning to advance the idea that improvisation and using jazz ensembles, as an example, is one way of engaging with the problems in our world. In other words, let us think outside the box, work with each other in goodwill, and produce situations in the political, economic, and in the wider culture. In my professional life, this is constrained whenever success and money are involved.
Definitely. Thank you.
How do I deal with this? Oh, I suffer. I suffer a lot. This is a superb question and thank you.
Thank you very much.